A call to amplify local knowledge (and stories)

A call to amplify local knowledge (and stories)

Welcome to this week’s LEAP:IN newsletter. Each week, we unpack leader’s powerful quotes and decipher the tech landscape. With exclusive content from some of the world’s leading experts in AI, robotics, space, edutech, climate tech and more, read on to discover this week’s insights and subscribe to receive weekly updates direct to your inbox.

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This week we’re quoting…

Dr. Makaziwe Mandela (House of Mandela Foundation) 

What Mandela said:

“I think there should be collaboration between our governments and tech companies to be able to adapt the technologies for the unique environments that are there in Africa.”

It’s about understanding how tech can (and will) be used

The reality is that just because a technology exists in a place doesn’t mean it’ll work. And just because a technology works in a place doesn’t mean it’ll be used in the way its creator expected (or intended) it to. 

Nathaniel Allen (Assistant Professor at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies) pointed out, for example, that the spread of emerging technologies (like facial recognition cameras, drones, and smart city tech) across the African continent has the potential to improve government revenues and prevent corruption. But, he wrote, “the digital revolution’s ultimate legacy will be determined not by technology, but by how it is used.” 

The same tech that could improve national security and government effectiveness, foster inclusion and increase transparency, could also be used as “a tool of repression, division, and conflict.” 

So Mandela’s call for tech companies to build local partnerships and understand the countries they’re working in isn’t just about making sure tech is accessible to citizens. It runs deeper than that — companies need to consider if their products will actually be helping citizens, or harming them. 

On a lighter note…

  • JoziHub is a South Africa-based incubator helping to accelerate tech and social innovation, via local hubs that focus on local adaptations of products and services. And JoziHub has got some great startups under its wing, including:
  • Libalel Energy. A photovoltaic project and eMobility infrastructure development company, aiming to integrate solar power into daily life in African countries. Libalel is pushing for access to off-grid solar energy for communities across Africa — because the company understands that many people don’t have access to reliable electricity supply or connectivity to a centralised grid.
  • Grassroot. This non-profit is creating digital tools to enable political organisation and information-sharing. “We seek to rekindle the ability to act together that defeated Apartheid and with it transform and strengthen our democracy.” And they’re doing it by enabling communities to collaborate, build manifestos, and amplify their voices. 

And we love projects like this:

iamtheCODE is an African-led global movement with a mission to mobilise governments, private companies, and philanthropic organisations to invest in future tech that will drive sustainable development for women and girls, particularly in marginalised communities. It aims to enable one million young women and girls to become coders by 2030. And one of iamtheCODE’s key ambassadors is Mbali Hlongwane — founder of Pink Codrs Africa (which challenges the global shortage of female coders). 

Watch the video: Tech in developing countries

And…

Frank Dai (President, Cloud Business at Huawei Middle East) 

What Dai said:

“Those companies who take the pioneer role into digitalisation get the benefit of the technology. [But in some industries and companies] there is still a lack of skill sets to embrace new technology in digitalisation. And we believe the skill sets to embrace new technology will impact on their performance.”

Service-based tech works around this

Technology that packs complex digital processes into user experiences that seem (on the surface) very simple allows companies and industries to overcome skills gaps. Dai wasn’t the only #LEAP22 speaker to talk about this — Adele Trombetta detailed the way that Cisco transformed from a technology-centric company, to an experience-centric one. 

But that transformation in itself requires certain skills from employees (to be an experience-led business you’ve got to have a team with strong interpersonal skills, for example).

So, Dai’s words got us wondering:

What are the most in-demand skill sets in tech right now?

The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs report (which looked ahead to 2022 and beyond) said that 50% of all employees will need to reskill by 2025, as the adoption of technology increases. 

So HR Forecast set about to find out what the most in-demand tech skills will be over the next few years. Their researched covered more than 200 million jobs, and found that:

  • The highest paying jobs in tech will be in cloud computing, cybersecurity, AI and machine learning, big data analytics, VR and AR, blockchain, video production, and UX (with cloud computing and UX both on that list, it seems Dai and Huawei are definitely on the right track).
  • Digital literacy is a non-negotiable for pretty much all jobs in the future, and critical/agile thinking is important too.
  • Interpersonal skills will be increasingly in-demand. Yep, as technology becomes more adaptable and efficient, people skills get even more important. Specifically, HR Forecast’s research notes that strong communication, mental flexibility, and the capacity to build strong relationships will be highly sought-after. 
  • Self-management is a crucial new focus. In a world of flexible and remote working, tech companies (and all organisations, actually) will be looking for people with the skill and drive to motivate themselves, manage their workload effectively, and remain accountable to goals and targets even when they’re on their own. 

Storytelling: the quiet hero of communication and tech

While we’re on the subject of skill sets and interpersonal prowess, we wanted to tell you about a book we’ve been reading: How to tell your story so the world listens, by Bobette Buster. Not only will it help you craft your awe-inspiring talk for LEAP23 (hint hint), but it’s just a really great exploration of the power of stories that we think can be applied to any business, any tech product, and any person with a vision they want to share.

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